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The “Middle space between languages”: Julia Alvarez and Ingrid Rojas Contreras

January 17 – February 21, 2021
Sundays, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. (six sessions)
online via Zoom

This seminar will be an exploration of what Ingrid Rojas Contreras so accurately refers to as, “the middle space between languages,” in her essay, Translation as an Arithmetic of Loss. We will discuss the ways in which the characters in the two novels, Afterlife by Julia Alvarez and Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, as well as the speakers in the additional poems, navigate the in-betweenness of being bilingual. Each text is a discovery of the ways in which people live both within and between two cultures, languages, and often, identities, and how this shapes their stories. We will also read the Rojas Contreras essay to question what is, both lost and gained, for the characters in the novels whose stories are told from inside this middle space.

First Assignment: Before the first meeting, participants should have read the first half of Afterlife and her essay in advance of the seminar. We will begin with a discussion of the essay to form a foundation for understanding Antonia, Alvarez’s protagonist, who continually questions her relationship to language(s).

Main Texts:
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Supplemental Texts:
Translation as an Arithmetic of Loss by Ingrid Rojas Contreras https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2019/06/18/translation-as-an-arithmetic-of-loss/

Bilingual/Bilingüe by Rhina P. Espaillat

3 Ways to Speak English by Jamila Lyiscott

Words are Birds by Francisco X. Alarcón

Delve Access Program
We want Delve seminars to be accessible to everyone, regardless of income and background. We understand that our tuition structure can present obstacles for some people. We are happy to offer an Access Program which provides reduced tuition to qualifying participants. Most Delves have at least one access spot available. Contact Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org if you would like to take a Delve at the Access Rate

Elizabeth Argelia Leonard

Elizabeth Argelia Leonard has been a writer since before she could actually read, making up stories and plays that her family were forced to listen to and sometimes scribe. She moved to London to write a novel and earned her Master’s from City University London. Since returning to the U.S., she has been working as a teaching artist/activist for top arts education and social justice organizations in New York City. She is also an editor and has recently edited three memoirs and a play, Adonis Memories, which was featured in The New York Times. She currently lives in New Jersey and is writing her second novel.
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